7 Ways Whole Plant-Based Foods Help You Lose Weight Without Counting Calories

Most people who try to lose weight usually count calories and reduce portions. While this may work in the short term, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to sustain over time.

Can you really lose weight without counting calories? The answer is yes – if you eat the right foods.

Early this year, PCRM – Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine – published research showing that a healthy plant-based vegetarian diet helps you lose weight without counting calories.

This meta-analysis, conducted by PCRM, was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on Thursday, January 22, 2015. A total of 15 studies were reviewed, that were conducted with 755 participants in Finland, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United States. The studies, some short as four weeks, with others last as long as two years; showed an average weight loss of 10 pounds over a 44-week period.

Neal Barnard, M.D., lead author of the study, president of the Physicians Committee, and an adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, was quoted as saying:

“The take-home message is that a plant-based diet can help you lose weight without counting calories and without ramping up your exercise routine. We hope health care providers will take note and prescribe this approach to patients looking to manage their weight and health.”

Here’s the 7 ways whole plant-based diets work to help you lose weight without counting calories.

Green Nutrition News 25 Aug 15

1. The main ‘secret’ ingredient of whole plant based diets can be summed up in one important F word: FIBRE.

Or for those in the US – fiber. Fibre is a special type of carbohydrate found only in plants that cannot be digested by the body. It is naturally low in calories, yet it helps fill us up, and is critical in preventing or combating such conditions as high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, cancer and heart disease.

2. Choosing whole plant foods means you avoid consuming foods made with white, refined flour and sugar, which tend to be calorie-dense but nutrient-poor.

This means consuming mostly whole vegetables (raw and cooked – especially dark leafy greens), whole fruit, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, such as oats, brown rice and protein-rich quinoa. Avoid foods that are processed to the point where they lose most of their fibre and other micro-nutrients (such as fruit juice). Choosing whole plantbased food means choosing plant food that is in, or close to, its natural state.

3. If you eat mostly, or all whole, natural foods, you don’t have to worry about getting too much (or not enough) fat, carbs, or protein.

The beauty of healthy, whole plant foods is that they are balanced in all the very best nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and phyto-chemicals, and, (not to mention; again) fibre.

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4. Whole plant foods are mostly low in fat, which has more than double the calories of protein or carbohydrates.

With the exceptions such as raw nuts, seeds, avocado and whole olives (not oil) which are healthy sources of  good fats, essential omega 3, omega 6 and protein. Several studies have also shown that eating small amounts of nuts helps with weight loss because the fibre and protein help you feel full longer.

5. Whole plants foods are naturally low in salt and sugar.

Even the natural sugar in fruit is of the low GI variety, as the fibre in whole fruit ensures as low release of the energy.

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6. Plant foods provide a kaleidoscope of colours, tastes, and textures that add interest, flavour and variety to food – without piling on the pounds!

Instead of mixing fatty, creamy sauces and dressings, or adding lots of butter, cheese or refined oils, you can utilise the vast range of natural herbs, seasonings and spices that add both zest and healthy nutrients to your dishes – without adding extra calories.

7. Whole plant foods are non-addictive and health-promoting.

Foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar (think cheese, pastries, sweets, fried food, processed meats) tend to over-stimulate our palate, and can lead to food addiction, or at least over-consumption. Fast, or ‘junk’ food is a prime example of this. Sugary white buns, fatty meats and cheese, rich sauces and condiments, ice cream, fried chips – all these type of foods are loaded with calories, are not very filling, and can have a devastating effect on our health.

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It turns out that the best diet to lose weight – and keep it off – is also the most protective against the main killer diseases that afflict so many people in our society; including cancer, heart disease, stroke, dementia, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

The answer to the question, ‘what is the best diet to enable you to have and maintain a healthy weight and body?’ is simple: whole-foods, plant-based.

Let me know in the comments what you think is the best eating plan for you, or if you have any questions.

Tom Perry

Be Kind To Animals Week And What It’s Like To Be A Young Vegan

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats its animals.” Gandhi.

bekindtoanimalsweek

Image courtesy of bekindtoanimalsweek.org.au

Be Kind To Animals Week is happening in Australia this 1 October to 7 October 2015 which coincide with World Animal Day on October 4 as well as the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

This year, Be Kind to Animals Week is launched by Edgar’s Mission farm sanctuary and Think Kind Australia: a multi-award winning website for teachers and parents to find free quality educational resources to promote humane education. Be Kind to Animals Week school competition 2015 asks students to do one act that makes the lives of animals better. It’s about inspiring and empowering students to take positive action for animal welfare and protection – and it’s also a great chance to have fun, build essential critical thinking skills and understand the value of empathy, responsibility and active citizenship in our communities!

So for this month’s inspirational interview, I thought it would be fitting to introduce you to Danae, a young vegan who’s on a mission to make a world a kinder place for the animals.

Interview with the vegan scholar

Hi Danae, tell us a bit about you personally and your blog The Vegan Scholar?

Hi! Let me start by throwing you a HUGE thank-you for featuring me on your blog. My name is Danae (A.K.A. The Vegan Scholar), I live in Australia and I’m 20 years old.  My interests include reading, writing, film, gaming and animals!

This year I’ll be studying English & Journalism at University – a subject that’s always been a passion of mine. I was studying a different degree last year – 3D modelling and programming – but decided it wasn’t for me and transferred into this new course.

In order to gain experience in the industry and hone my writing skills, I decided to start a blog, but wasn’t exactly sure what to blog about. Eventually I decided on veganism, as it’s a topic I’m very passionate about. I use my blog to provide useful resources for vegans and potential vegans.

How long have you been vegan for and what made you choose to transition to a plant-based lifestyle?

I’ve been vegan since October 2012 and vegetarian since 2000. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved animals. I could never, ever imagine doing anything to harm one. I grew up around animals and considered them my best friends.

When I was six years old, I watched “Lisa the Vegetarian” – a Simpsons’ episode where, as the title suggests, Lisa becomes a vegetarian (yes, The Simpsons can teach excellent moral messages)! The episode helped me realise where meat really came from – previously, I had no idea it came from animals. We had roast beef that night and although it was my favourite food at the time, I couldn’t bring myself to eat it. I distinctly remember covering the beef in tomato sauce, hoping that would make it easier to eat – but it looked just like blood. I made a quick decision and told my mum I didn’t want to eat meat anymore. Thankfully, she was supportive, and went vegetarian along with me.

As a vegetarian, I never understood veganism. I thought vegans were crazy, and that living without chocolate, cake and ice-cream would be the most difficult thing in the world. How naive I was! (FYI, I still eat plenty of chocolate, cake and ice-cream – just a much healthier, compassionate kind!)

One day,when I was extremely bored, my boyfriend and I were browsing YouTube videos about “How Stuff is Made”. It was then that I clicked on a video about meat production. I wanted to show my non-vegetarian boyfriend why I didn’t eat meat. In the end, the video affected me just as much as it affected him, as the video also included horrific footage of and information about the dairy and egg industries. After being exposed to that terrible truth, I knew I couldn’t contribute to it anymore. So I became vegan.

What was the biggest challenge you face as a young vegan advocating for animal rights?

The biggest challenge by far is dealing with non-vegans. I know very few vegans and vegetarians in real life. Most of my family and friends are meat-eaters. Whether you want it to or not, becoming vegan is going to change your perception of other people, and that can be difficult. It’s so hard to understand why my otherwise loving and caring family don’t seem to care about animal suffering. How can they ignore something that pains me to my soul?

I struggle to talk about my veganism in my daily life, because the mere mention of the phrase seems to ignite anger and hostility in other people. When friends and family ask me about my veganism, I don’t know what to say, because the chance of offending them is so high – and I have a strong aversion to conflict.

Do you have a role model, a source of inspiration or someone you look up to? Can you share this with us?

Anyone who makes an effort to fight for the animals is an inspiration to me – I must say, though, I am a HUGE fan of Vegan Sidekick’s comics and I love Esther the Wonder Pig and her family. I’m also inspired by the owners of C-A-L-F Animal Sanctuary. They struggle a great deal and yet always remain dedicated to their animal residents.

Do you have a favourite quote or mantra that you live by?

Yes! Two, in fact.

The first is a quote that Roald Dahl also lived by. He is one of my favourite authors and I have fond childhood members of reading his books. Here’s the quote:

“My candle burns at both ends, it will not last the night. But ah my foes, and oh my friends, it gives a lovely light.”

I take this to mean that we should make the most of life while it lasts.

The second is self-explanatory:

“If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others, why wouldn’t we?” – Edgar’s Mission.

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What are your 3 most favourite vegan foods?

A difficult choice… probably mixed seasonal vegetables and tofu with peanut satay sauce, the SFC (Soy Fried Chicken) burger from Zenhouse in Adelaide and homemade apple crumble! Not very healthy choices, I know – but all very delicious! :)

What exciting plans do you have for the future?

I hope to successfully complete my degree and eventually land myself in an enjoyable writing-related career. I want to be healthy and confident. I hope to live in a small house in the hills with my boyfriend and plenty of animals (ideally a few rescued farm animals). I also hope to have further success with my blog and to gain a little more motivation to keep posting regularly!

If you could give young vegans or aspiring vegans one parting piece of advice, what would it be?

At a time in your life when your friendships and relationships are all over the place, at least know that your strong morals and ethics will remain set in stone. Don’t let anyone try to change that. Be yourself, pamper yourself, and keep fighting for freedom and liberation.

Finally, tell us how can we learn more about you and your work? 

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My blog is available here: http://theveganscholar.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theveganscholar

Twitter: https://twitter.com/theveganscholar

For any feedback or inquiries, please e-mail me at veganscholar@gmail.com :)

Thank you so much for this opportunity. I really enjoyed the interview. Vegan power!

one vegan

Be Kind to Animals Week invites your school to do one kind act for animals from 1 June to 10 October. The nationwide competition is about inspiring and empowering students to take positive action for animal welfare while having fun, building essential critical thinking skills, and understanding the value of empathy, responsibility and active citizenship in our communities.

To learn more – please visit ThinkKind.Org

Keren x

Losing Weight On Plantbased Diet

This week my top 5 nutrition news items includes a study that showed people on a vegetarian diet lost more weight than omnivores (vegans lost the most!); a recent case study of a doctor who lost 75 pounds (34 kg) simply by switching to a plant-based diet; research showing that healthy vegan diets can ease the pain and other symptoms of diabetes; further proof that plant-based vegetarian diets boost metabolism (independent of exercise), and evidence that phytates in pulses and beans protect against colon cancer.

Green Nutrition News Aug 17

Shed Pounds – Go Veg!

A recent study published online showed that people on a vegetarian diet overall lost more weight than people on an average American diet.

Vegetarian, or plant-based diets have been linked to a decreased risk of type-2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. Recent studies have also showed people can lose weight if they cut out meat.

Researchers affiliated with Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health analysed published clinical trials that looked at the effects of vegetarian diets on weight loss.

The research team focused on lacto-ovo vegetarian diets that allow milk and eggs as well as vegan diets with no animal products, and compared them with non-vegetarian diets. Results of the meta-analysis, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found that those on vegetarian diets lost around 4.4 pounds more than the control group, while those on a vegan diet lost 5.5 pounds.

More Fruit & Veg = Less Calories

One possible reason for the weight loss may be the large amount of fruit, vegetables and whole grains consumed by people on the vegetarian/vegan diets, and the fact the plant-based foods usually have fewer calories than animal-based foods, according to the researchers.

It has been established that whole plant foods like vegetables, fruit and beans have the highest density of nutrients and the lowest calories; not to mention plenty of zero-calorie fibre that helps fill you up without putting on weight. This meta-analysis is yet more proof of what we already know!

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How a family doctor lost 75 pounds without portion control

The Forks Over Knives website recently featured another ‘good-news’ plant-based diet story about a family doctor who rediscovered good health and learned how to get off the ‘weight-loss roller-coaster’.

This 6’2″ (188 cm) doctor, Dr Steve Lawenda, weighed up to 255 lbs (115 kg) at his peak, qualifying him as obese.

Steve only knew of 2 strategies for weight loss: eating less and/or exercising more. Steve found that eating less, namely calorie counting or portion control, repeatedly failed, leaving him hungry and craving more of his favorite foods.

Diets Don’t Work

He found that his weight continually fluctuated over years of intermittent portion control and periods of exercise. As Steve notes, he wasn’t alone following this familiar cycle. Statistics show that calorie-restricted diets fail 95% of the time. In other words, dieting doesn’t work!

Steve found out about the science and logic of a whole-foods, plant-based diet from the book Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman; watching the inspirational Forks Over Knives documentary; and later reading books from Drs. Caldwell Esselstyn (Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease), T. Colin Campbell (The China Study), and John McDougall (The Starch Solution).

Eat More (Plants) – Weigh Less

For the first time Steve was aware of a weight-loss strategy that involved eating MORE of something (whole plant foods), not less, and where portion control and calorie counting were not only unnecessary, but discouraged.

Steve was amazed to realize that he could eat as much as he wanted, feel full every day, and yet see his weight drop at such a steady pace. As Steve puts it, this seemed to defy some law of physics; and it felt great!

The end result was that Steve lost 75 pounds (34 kg) with relative ease over eight months, and he has maintained this loss for over a year and a half. Steve now realizes that he wasn’t a failure; the food he was eating failed him.

Steve found that he enjoyed eating vegetables in soups and salads, and came to realize that many of his favorite cuisines, including Italian, Mexican, Chinese, and Thai, had many delicious plant-based dishes. Steve found he could make relatively simple modifications to favorite dishes that still preserved their taste and essence. He even found ways to continue enjoying ice cream and chocolate – with delicious whole-food, plant-based versions of these treats.

As Dr Steve says, “Not only does this lifestyle consistently improve the lives of those making the change, but it also has the potential, over time, to transform healthcare as we know it—reversing obesity and related chronic diseases, and reducing skyrocketing healthcare costs”.

 

Are Vegan Diets Effective Against Diabetes?

A May 2015 article on the Gazette Review reported on a small pilot study suggesting that switching to a plant-based diet helps ease diabetic neuropathy, which refers to nerve damage and pain caused by the effects of diabetes.

Over half of adults with type-2 diabetes may develop diabetic neuropathy, which occurs when your blood is not circulating normally and has high levels of glucose. This can lead to ulcers and all kinds of infections on the legs and feet, and is the leading cause of limb amputation for those who suffer from the disease.

In this study, featured in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes, and led by doctors and nutritionists at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), researchers chose 17 overweight adults with diabetic neuropathy on a low-fat, high fibre vegan diet for 20 weeks. The group of adults attended nutrition classes every week and took a vitamin B12 supplement, a very important nutrient that is good for the nerves (I take a daily supplement with B12, and encourage other vegans to do the same).

Going Vegan Improves Diabetic Symptoms

The study participants were compared with 17 other adults, who received vitamin B12 but were not on the vegan diet. People on the plant-based diet said they felt better and had less pain. Tests done to these people also showed better blood circulation, improved nerve function, and ability to control their levels of glucose, which helped them to lower the dose of their medication. As an added bonus, the participants lost an average of 14 pounds.

A dietary intervention reduces the pain associated with diabetic neuropathy, apparently by improving insulin resistance” notes Neal Barnard, M.D., president of the Physicians Committee. “The same diet also improves body weight and reduces cholesterol and blood pressure.”

According to PCRM, 60% percent of diabetes patients suffer from peripheral neuropathy, which is associated with hypertension, obesity, gait disturbances, amputations, anxiety, depression, and reduced quality of life.

The dietary intervention is easy to prescribe and easy to follow,” says Cameron Wells, M.P.H., R.D., acting director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee. “Steel-cut oats, leafy greens, and lentils are widely available at most food markets and fit well into most budgets.”

steelcut oats

Vegetarian Diets Increase Metabolism

According to a study published in Nutrients in July and reported on PCRM Breaking News online, vegetarian diets are associated with higher metabolic rates. A total of 24 vegetarian and 26 non-vegetarian participants had their diets; metabolic rates; biochemical analyses and inflammatory markers monitored.

Eat Plant-based and Boost your Metabolism by 16%

The study also showed that vegetarians lowered their cholesterol levels and had higher levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines compared with non-vegetarians, and complements other research that shows vegetarian/plant-based diets increase metabolism. Studies carried out by Dr Neal Barnard and the Physicians Committee, and detailed in the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart program, found a 16 percent increase in after-meal metabolism that lasts for about three hours after each meal.

Preventing Colon Cancer – is it Fibre or Phytates?

As Dr Michael Greger of Nutrition Facts advises, the most important environmental risk factor for cancer is diet.

Studies have highlighted the health-promoting plant-based substances known as phytonutrients, which have proven beneficial effects on certain cancers.

Pulses and beans, including chickpeas, split peas and lentils are packed with nutrients, but how do they protect against degenerative disease such as cancer? The reason may be due to non-nutritive compounds, or even so-called “antinutrient” compounds like phytates.

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Fight Cancer with Phytates

Previously phytates have been criticized for binding to certain minerals like iron, zinc and manganese and slowing their absorption. However, this dietary feature of phytates may be more of a boon than a burden.

In the US and Australia colon, or bowel/colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death. This is not the case in parts of world where a predominantly whole-food plant-based diet is consumed.

The famous surgeon Denis Burkitt spent 24 years in Uganda and most of the hospitals he contacted there had never seen a case of colon cancer. Dr Burkitt thought that it was the fibre in the Ugandan’s whole plant foods diet that was so protective.

Some studies have since questioned Dr Burkitt’s theory. For example, Danes appear to have more colon cancer than Finns, yet Danes consume almost twice the dietary fibre.

An Adventist study highlighted in Dr Greger’s video Phytates for the Prevention of Cancer found “excess risk of cancer for higher intakes of both red meat and white meat, suggesting all meats contribute to colon cancer formation — about twice the risk for red meat eaters, and three times the risk for those eating chicken and fish”.

As Dr Greger explains, “phytate is known to be a powerful inhibitor of the iron-mediated production of hydroxyl radicals, a particularly dangerous type of free radical. So the standard American diet may be a double whammy, the heme iron in muscle meat plus the lack of phytate in refined plant foods to extinguish the iron radicals”.

People who eat meat can reduce their risk of colon cancer in two ways: by cutting down on meat; or by eating more beans, which are an excellent source of phytates. To improve your chance of avoiding colon cancer even further, why not do both?

 

Tom Perry

Vegan Vegetable Frittata

Vegan Frittata

Who says that you can’t make egg-free frittata?

But honestly, if you asked me a year ago if I could make frittata without eggs, I would have said, ‘hell, no!’

Vegan Frittata

Frittata, by definition, is an omelette – specifically an Italian-style omelette filled with various ingredients. And as we all know, you need eggs to make omelette.

Or do you?

Vegan Frittata

Fast forward to the present day. I’ve learned that you can make egg-free omelette. And since you can make egg-free omelette, you can make egg-free frittata. Hallelujah.

Vegan Frittata

To make a vegan frittata you need to use chickpea flour, vegetable starch (I use arrowroot powder but you can also use corn starch or potato starch), nutritional yeast, onion, garlic and mustard powder. All of these ingredients are very important for both texture and flavours so don’t skimp or omit any of them. The recipe yields a texture similar to that the normal frittata, but slightly softer and tender, somewhat like scrambled eggs (without the eggs, of course).

Vegan Frittata

Why I love it: 

It really reminds me of egg frittata! I served mine with Sriracha sauce (I’m a bit of a Sriracha addict) and garnished it with some fresh parsley leaves. The leaves add freshness to the dish, and also make the frittata look pretty and stylish on the plate. It didn’t take long before I made a huge mess of the plate, though.

This vegan vegetable frittata recipe uses no oil apart from greasing the baking dish so it’s perfect for those who are looking to eating more whole foods as part of a plant-based diet. It is full of protein so it’s just like eating real frittata (minus the cholesterol and saturated fat)

Vegan Frittata

 

Vegan Frittata
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Keren
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • Omelette batter
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 Tbsp arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder, garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 ½ cup vegetable stock
  • Fillings
  • 2 cups of chopped vegetables – I use:
  • ¼ cup chopped spring beans
  • ¼ cup diced red capsicum
  • ½ cup chopped asparagus
  • 1 cup shredded kale
  • Seasoning
  • ½ large red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • A pinch of black salt or Kala Namak (optional but highly recommended)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • [url href=”http://www.passionatelykeren.com.au/make-vegan-parmesan/” target=”_blank”]Vegan parmesan[/url]
Instructions
Cuisine Companion Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Chop red onion and garlic cloves using superblade on speed 8 for 20 sec. Transfer into a plate, rinse the bowl and blade and wipe dry.
  3. Add all the dry chickpea batter ingredients into the bowl. Mix for 5 seconds on speed 8.
  4. Add the vegetable stock and cook using speed 5 at 100 C for 5 minutes
  5. The mixture should be thick.
  6. Add the chopped veggies to the batter. Mix at speed 8 for 10 -15 seconds until mixed through
  7. Transfer batter onto greased pyrex pan. Even it out with spatula.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes and then cover with aluminium foil and bake for another 25 minutes or until the centre is not jiggly and the edges are lightly brown. Depending on the type of your vegetables you use you might need more or less time for the batter to cook. Just prick the centre with a fork to test done-ness.
  9. Stand for 10-15 minutes to set.
  10. Sprinkle with a bit of black salt for an eggy flavour boost.
  11. Serve warm with some freshly ground pepper, [url href=”http://www.passionatelykeren.com.au/make-vegan-parmesan/” target=”_blank”]vegan parmesan[/url], and your favourite hot sauce.
Manual Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  2. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat, cook onion and garlic until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add vegetable stock. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add the chickpea flour, arrowroot powder and the remaining dry ingredients
  5. Cook for about 5 minutes until the mixture becomes thick. Stir in the chopped veggies and mix.
  6. Transfer batter onto greased Pyrex pan and flatten the surface with spatula.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes.
  8. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for another 25 minutes or until the center is not jiggly and the edges are lightly brown. Depending on the type of your vegetables you use you might need more or less time for the batter to cook.
  9. Prick the centre with a fork to test done-ness. Stand for 10-15 minutes to set.
  10. Serve warm with some freshly ground pepper, [url href=”http://www.passionatelykeren.com.au/make-vegan-parmesan/” target=”_blank”]vegan parmesan[/url], a sprinkle of black salt and your favourite hot sauce.
Notes
Freeze leftovers for up to 4 weeks.[br]Sprinkle with some black salt before serving for an ‘eggy boost’.

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and/or share a picture and tag me @passionatelykeren on Instagram .

Love and greens,

Keren

The Secret Ingredient For Health And Weight Loss

Green Nutrition News 8 Aug

What if I told you that I had a secret food ingredient that is guaranteed to help you feel full for hours, aids in digestion, reduces your risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and high cholesterol, helps flush fat out of your system, adds texture to food, keeps you regular, and has ZERO calories? Would you want to get some of this? What would you be willing to pay for this magic supplement?

As it turns out, not only does this fantastic food component exist abundantly in nature, it costs you virtually NOTHING! So what is the big F-word for health and weight loss? The answer is simple: fibre (or, if you’re in the US, fiber).

According to research published in The Journal of Nutrition the ‘secret’, proven way to prevent weight gain or even encourage weight loss without dieting is, of course, to consume more fibre.

As reported in a recent ‘Eating Well’ article, researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah followed the eating habits of 252 middle-aged women for nearly two years and found that those who increased their fibre intake generally lost weight. Women who decreased the fibre in their diets gained weight.

The research scientists found that increasing fibre by 8 grams for every 1,000 calories consumed resulted in losing about 4½ pounds (2kg) over the course of the study.

While it helps you feel full, “fibre has no calories,” says Larry Tucker, Ph.D., lead researcher and professor in the Department of Exercise Sciences at Brigham Young.

Plantbased for weightloss

How much fibre should you eat?

The USDA recommends 14 grams of fibre for every 1,000 calories consumed by healthy adults. So a person eating 2,000 calories a day should aim to get at least 28 grams (or more) of fibre daily.

Most Australians do not consume enough fibre. On average, most Australians consume 20–25g of fibre daily, whereas the Australian Heart Foundation recommends that adults should aim to consume approximately 25–30g daily.

You could easily meet or exceed the recommended amount of daily fibre by eating the following healthy plant foods over the course of a day:

  • ½ cup oatmeal (3 grams fibre)
  • 1 small banana (3 grams)
  • ½ cup cooked red or black beans (7 grams)
  • 1 small apple (5 grams)
  • ½ cup lentils (8 grams)
  • and ½ cup blueberries (3 grams)

strawberries-498207_1280

 

Dangers of a low-fibre diet

Reducing the amount of fibre-rich, whole plant foods in your diet is dangerous to your health. Disorders that can arise from a low-fibre diet include:

  • Constipation
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Diverticulitis
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Heart disease
  • Bowel cancer

Note that animal products have no fibre at all, so the more meat, dairy and eggs you consume, the less room in your diet for this important food component.

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What is dietary fibre?

Dietary fibre is a type of complex carbohydrate made up of the indigestible parts or compounds of plants, which pass relatively unchanged through our stomach and intestines. Other terms for dietary fibre include ‘bulk’ and ‘roughage’, which can be misleading since some forms of fibre are water-soluble and aren’t bulky or rough at all.

Unlike other food components such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates that your body breaks down and absorbs, your body doesn’t digest fibre. Rather, fibre passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine, and colon, and out of your body.

Types of fibre

There are two categories of fibre, commonly classified as soluble (dissolves in water) or insoluble (doesn’t dissolve), and we need to eat both in our daily diets. They are:

  • Soluble fibre – includes pectins, gums and mucilage, which are found mainly in plant cells. This type of fibre dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. One of its major roles is to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Good sources of soluble fibre include fruits, vegetables, oat bran, barley, seed husks, flaxseed, psyllium, dried beans, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, lentils, peas, and soy products.
  • Insoluble fibre – includes cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin, which make up the structural parts of plant cell walls. A major role of insoluble fibre is to add bulk to faeces and to prevent constipation and associated problems such as haemorrhoids. This type of fibre promotes the movement of waste material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, which helps with constipation. Good sources include wheat bran, corn bran, rice bran, the skins of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, dried beans and whole-grain foods.

organic apples

Health benefits of fibre

Both types of fibre are beneficial to the body and most plant foods contain a mixture of both types – soluble and insoluble fibre. However, the amount of each type varies in different plant foods. To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of high-fibre (whole plant-based) foods.

Individuals with high intakes of dietary fibre appear to be at significantly lower risk for developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. Increasing fibre intake lowers blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels. Increased intake of soluble fibre improves glycaemia and insulin sensitivity in non-diabetic and diabetic individuals.

Why fibre is important for healthy weight loss

  • High-fibre foods require more chewing time, which gives your body time to register when you’re no longer hungry, so you’re less likely to overeat.
  • A high-fibre diet tends to make meals feel larger and linger longer, so you stay full for a greater amount of time.
  • High-fibre diets also tend to be less “energy dense,” which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.

Your best food choices for fibre

Your best choices for fibre are healthy whole plant foods. These include:

  • Whole-grain foods
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Beans, peas and other legumes
  • Nuts and seeds

Remember, fibre is only found in abundance in relatively unprocessed, whole plant foods. Refined or processed foods such as canned fruits and vegetables, pulp-free juices, white breads and pastas, and non-whole-grain cereals are lower in fibre. The grain-refining process removes the outer coat (bran) from the grain, which lowers its fibre content, as does removing the skin from fruits and vegetables.

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6 Ways To Fit Fibre Into Your Food

  1. Bulk-up at breakfast. For breakfast choose a high-fibre breakfast cereal such as rolled oats or a whole-grain cereal. Or try baked beans on whole wheat toast
  2. Have the whole grain. Choose breads that list whole wheat, whole-wheat flour or another whole grain as the first ingredient on the label. Have brown rice, wild rice, barley, whole-wheat pasta and bulgur, instead of white rice and pasta.
  3. Vegify your mealsAdd fresh or frozen vegetables to soups and sauces. For example, mix chopped frozen broccoli into prepared spaghetti sauce or toss fresh baby carrots into stews.
  4. Love your legumesLentils, beans, and peas excellent sources of fibre. Use lentils and beans in curries, stews, salads, Mexican dishes and soups.
  5. Go fruityApples, bananas, oranges, pears and berries are all good sources of fibre.
  6. Plant-power snacks. Instead of cookies, cake or chocolate, snack on fresh fruits, raw vegetables, low-fat popcorn and whole-grain crackers. An occasional handful of nuts or dried fruits also is a healthy, high-fibre snack, although be aware that nuts and dried fruits are high in calories.

High-fibre foods are not only important to assist and sustain weight loss, but they’re good for your health. Be careful adding too much fibre to your meals at once, however, as this can lead to intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. Gradually increase your dietary fibre over a period of a few weeks. This allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change.

Finally, drink plenty of water. Fibre works best when it absorbs water, making your stool soft and bulky.

Where Do You Get Your Fibre

Information sources:

Tom Perry

Sumo Citrus Spiced Rice Pudding (vegan and sugar-free)

Sumo Citrus Rice Pudding-2

This weekend I whipped up a super easy, super delicious and nutritious recipe and entered it into a competition. It’s my healthy, refined sugar-free and dairy-free take on the normal rice pudding. It is very simple and easy to make. Just need to cook your rice in a pan, make your smoothie and then stir your smoothie into the rice. Let it simmer until thick and creamy and voila! You have your rice pudding. Serve with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon and tell your partner it was such a hard work. It may score you a shoulder massage or two :P.

Why I love it:

What I love about most about this rice pudding is the fact that it’s rich and creamy but also light and refreshing at the same time. It has a gentle citrus tang and it smells like Christmas morning.

Made using walnut citrus smoothie it contains lot’s of omega-3 from walnut (great for the brain) and the goodness of one whole orange which is rich in fibre and Vitamin C and is a good source of minerals such as Thiamin, Folate and Potassium.

Sumo Citrus Rice Pudding-3

Make this. I promise you will love it.

 

Sumo Citrus Spiced Rice Pudding
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Keren
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Creamy, nutty and fragrant rice pudding that is mildly sweet, citrusy and every bit delicious. It’s a rich and decadent dessert, easy to make, dairyfree and refined-sugar free.
Ingredients
  • 1 large Sumo Citrus
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 cups of filtered water
  • Walnut Sumo Citrus Smoothie
  • Sumo Citrus flesh
  • 2 cups of filtered water
  • ½ cup of walnut
  • ½ cup rice malt syrup
  • ½ tsp allspice powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Grate the zest of Sumo Citrus. Set aside. Remove the flesh for smoothie and reserve 2 strips of peel.
  2. Make Walnut Sumo Citrus Smoothie: In a blender, add all the smoothie ingredients. Blend for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Combine 2 strips orange peel, 2 cups water, a pinch of salt in a heavy-based saucepan and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the rice and return to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. While the rice is cooking, slowly add the smoothie. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring, until the liquid is mostly absorbed, about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Remove the peel and stir in zest. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.

If you want to help me win the competition, you can vote up my recipe and get me in the top 5. Let me know if you voted in the comment section so I can personally thank you. Thank you!

Vote For Little Green Habits!

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and/or share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #littlegreenhabits.

Love and greens, 

Keren x

Beating Temptation, Diverticulosis, Grains, Gluten and Obesity

This week my top 5 nutrition news items includes an article by James Clear about the health-promoting power of saying “I don’t”; the prevalence of and preventative measures against diverticulosis; a diet swap which highlights the dangers of the Western diet; how dramatically lower grain consumption in Australia hasn’t stopped obesity, and the misconceptions around gluten-intolerance and the supposed health benefits of gluten-free foods.

Green Nutrition News Aug

How to avoid temptation and distraction

So, you want to give up or reduce your consumption of meat, dairy, eggs, sweets or junk food? Or perhaps you want to start working out regularly, drop a dress size (or two!), or just start eating healthier? What mindset and motivational words help you the most?

In this article by author and motivational expert James Clear, the very words we use when we set out on a quest to eat healthier or exercise more make a difference. Maybe a big difference! As James says, saying ‘no’ to unnecessary commitments and daily distractions can help you to focus and recover, while saying ‘no’ to temptation can help you stay on track and achieve your health goals.

In one study, a group of students were split into two. One group was told that when faced with temptation, they would say “I can’t do X”, while the other group was told they would say “I don’t do X”. When offered the choice between a chocolate bar or a granola health bar, 61% of the “I can’t do X” students chose the chocolate bar, while only 36% of the “I don’t do X” went for the chocolate.

The same researchers formed a group of 30 women for another study, that were split into 3 groups of 10, and told to think of a long–term health and wellness goal that was important to them. If they felt tempted to lapse on their goals, the first group was told: “just say no”; the second group was told “I can’t…miss my workout today” (for example), and the third group was told to implement the ‘don’t’ strategy, such as “I don’t miss workouts”.

After 10 days of implementing these strategies to meet their health goals, the women reported their findings:

  • Group 1 (the “just say no” group) had3 out of 10 members who persisted with their goals for the entire 10 days.
  • Group 2 (the “can’t” group) had1 out of 10 members who persisted with her goal for the entire 10 days.
  • Group 3 (the “don’t” group) had an incredible8 out of 10 members who persisted with their goals for the entire 10 days.

Why “I don’t” works better than “I can’t”

As James explains, “every time you tell yourself “I can’t”, you’re creating a feedback loop that is a reminder of your limitations. This terminology indicates that you’re forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do.”

However, adds James, “when you tell yourself “I don’t”, you’re creating a feedback loop that reminds you of your control and power over the situation. It’s a phrase that can propel you towards breaking your bad habits and following your good ones.”

According to Heidi Grant Halvorson, the director of the Motivation Science Center at Columbia University, “I don’t” is experienced as a choice, so it feels empowering. It’s an affirmation of your determination and willpower. “I can’t” isn’t a choice. It’s a restriction, it’s being imposed upon you. So thinking “I can’t” undermines your sense of power and personal agency”.

So next time you’re offered food you know you shouldn’t eat, or you think of avoiding exercise, just try saying: “I don’t eat that” or “I don’t skip workouts”, and let us know how it works for you!

Diverticulosis: When Our Most Common Gut Disorder Hardly Existed

medical

Dr Michael Greger from Nutrition Facts presents information about diverticulosis, a condition that occurs when abnormal pouches form in the wall of the colon (large intestine). When these pouches become inflamed and infected the diagnosis becomes diverticulitis, and both conditions come under the heading ‘Diverticular Disease’.

According to the State of Victoria, Australia, government’s Better Health Channel, “diverticulitis is often a medical emergency, requiring immediate medical attention and, frequently, admission to hospital. Mild attacks can be treated at home, but should always be assessed promptly”.

How common is Diverticulosis?

More than two-thirds of Americans over age 60 have diverticulosis and in Australia more than half of people aged over 70 have the condition, but it is less common in Asia, and almost unknown in Africa. According to Dr Greger, Diverticular Disease is our most common gut disorder, affecting up to 70% of people living in industrialized countries by age 60.

How can we prevent Diverticulosis?

More than a hundred years ago, in early 1900’s America, Diverticular Disease was virtually unknown, with only a total of 25 cases reported in 1907. Within a single lifespan of about 70 years, the disease was rampant.

In 1971, surgeons Neil Painter and Denis Burkitt suggested that Diverticular Disease was a deficiency disease, caused by a deficiency of fibre. It has been found that more than 50% of African Americans in their 50s have Diverticular Disease, but only less than 1% of Africans, eating a traditional plant-based diet, have the disease (that equates to 2 cases out of 4,000).

Does Fibre really protect against Diverticulosis?

In his second video in this series, Dr Greger explains how one widely-reported study from the University of North Carolina, which claimed to show that fibre didn’t prevent diverticulosis, failed to highlight the fact the study group eating the ‘higher fibre’ diet were still well under the minimum recommendations for fibre intake (about 32 grams a day). This renders the study findings useless, as it only compared one fibre-deficient diet (25 grams a day) to another fibre-deficient diet (8 grams a day).

By contrast, populations in rural Uganda, where they essentially have no diverticulosis, regularly consume ‘large plates of leafy vegetables’, with a fibre intake of 70-90 grams of fibre a day; 3-4 times more than consumed in North America and most other western countries.

In a recent study of 47,000 people, it was confirmed: “consuming a vegetarian diet and a high intake of dietary fibre were both associated with a lower risk of both hospitalization and death from diverticular disease”….and the group with the lowest risk (78% lower risk) of diverticular disease? Yes, you guessed it, the fully plant-based vegans!

Diet swap shows Western diet causes harm

burger

In a recent study reported in the Brisbane Times, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh asked 20 Americans to swap their diet with 20 Africans for 2 weeks.

The Americans were fed a typical African diet including beans and pulses, high in fibre and low in fat. By contrast the Africans consumed a high-fat, low-fibre western-style diet, with plenty of burgers and fries.

While you don’t have to be Einstein to guess which diet was healthier, what was surprising was the speed the subject’s bodies responded to their dietary changes, with the low-fat African diet significantly reducing bio-markers of colon cancer risk.

In just two weeks, a change in diet from a Westernised composition to a traditional African high-fibre, low-fat diet reduced these biomarkers of cancer risk, indicating that it is likely never too late to modify the risk of colon cancer,” lead researcher Dr Stephen O’Keefe was quoted as saying.

As a result of the study, researchers estimate that up to one third of bowel cancer cases could be avoided by improving your diet.

Fibre is not just fantastic for your bowels. Another new study found that eating more fibre is one simple way to lose weight and improve your overall health.

By changing one thing, people in the fibre group were able to improve their diet and lose weight and improve their overall markers for metabolic syndrome,” said the study’s lead author.

Lower grain consumption hasn’t stopped obesity in Australia

grains

In just 3 years from 2011 to 2014, Australia’s core grain consumption reportedly dropped by a whopping 30%. It is thought that fad diets such as Paleo and Gluten-Free have contributed to this rapid decline in grain consumption.

According to dietician and general manager of Australia’s Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council, Michelle Broom, people, and women in particular, were missing out on important nutrients.

Core grains provide fibre, iron and folate,” said Ms Broom, while the rate of gluten allergies and coeliac disease is constant at 1 to 2 per cent of the population.

Sarah Hyland, who is researching consumer attitudes to food and nutrition, was quoted in the report: “There is an increase in obesity rates amongst everybody in the last seven years, which is ironic, because we’re eating less grain, but getting fatter.”

Little Green Habits tip: go for the ‘whole’ grain, with less or minimal processing, such as rolled oats, or wholemeal pasta. White flour and white flour products have most of the fibre and nutrients of the original grain stripped out of them.

Think you’re gluten sensitive? Chances are, you’re not

bread

In June 2015 a Huff Post article reported on a recent study in the journal Digestion, that found 86% of individuals who believed they were gluten sensitive could tolerate it.

Individuals with the hereditary auto-immune coeliac disease, which affects about 1% of Americans, or 3 million people, must avoid gluten.

Apart from those with extremely rare wheat allergies, the other group of recommended gluten-avoiders include those with gluten sensitivity; about 6% of the US population, or around 18 million people.

Despite these relatively low figures, an estimated 30% of shoppers are choosing “gluten-free” options, and 41% of U.S. adults believe “gluten-free” foods are better for everyone. Many popular gluten-free foods, such as cookies, crackers, snack bars and chips, are not necessarily healthier, however, and are often lower in nutrients and higher in sugars, sodium and fat than their gluten-free counterparts.

People want to believe that they are gluten intolerant because it’s a way for them to avoid carbs, because they also think carbs make them fat,” according to registered dietician Vandana Sheth, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

This study showed that, as with coeliac disease and wheat allergies, gluten sensitivity is not nearly as prevalent as many believe. Eating a gluten-free diet isn’t necessarily healthier, and it is not recommended for weight loss – instead, it could lead to weight gain.

Many gluten-free products are higher in calories, fat, sodium and sugar because they need to enhance the flavor and texture to make up for the lack of gluten,” explained registered dietician Marina Chaparro, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

For the vast majority of us, the best way to achieve a healthy weight and to avoid chronic disease is to consume a diet high in vegetables, fruit, beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

 

Tom Perry